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January 9, 2014

White House defends itself, Biden over Gates book

(Continued)

The White House moved quickly to dispel that notion, issuing a statement calling Biden a “leading statesmen of his time” and echoing the sentiment before television cameras.

“I don’t think anybody who has covered us or knows the president and the vice president, knows how this White House functions, has any doubt about the president’s faith in Vice President Biden as an adviser and counselor,” Carney said.

In a rare departure from its usual policy, the White House allowed news photographers in yesterday to Obama’s weekly luncheon with Biden in the private dining room just off the Oval Office, where Biden spoke animatedly to Obama as they two sat across each other at a wood table. Carney said the White House merely was giving photographers more access, which they have demanded.

Biden’s central role in decision-making also was on display in Obama’s public schedule for yesterday, which showed the vice president meeting with the president five times during the day.

For the White House, defending Biden against questions about his value to the administration has become something of a familiar exercise. Late last year, Obama and his top aides sought to swat down reports in a book about Obama’s re-election that the White House had considered replacing Biden with Clinton on the 2012 ticket.

Sensitive to the fact that Biden was frequently overshadowed by Clinton during her prominent tenure as secretary of state, Obama has cautiously sought to avoid showing favoritism — especially when it comes to 2016.

Gestures that have appeared to bolster Clinton’s standing as an heir apparent to Obama — such as a private lunch the two shared last year — have frequently been followed by similar gestures to show Biden is still a valued part of the team. The day after Obama and Clinton dined together, Biden held his own private breakfast with Clinton.

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